London laughs as Joe Biden claims Brussels could be ‘capital of the free world’ | UK | New
Joe Biden will visit the UK and Belgium on his first overseas trip as President of the United States in June to try to rejuvenate transatlantic relations. The White House said Mr Biden would attend the G7 summit in Cornwall, UK, and hold bilateral meetings with other leaders, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson. After that, the president will travel to the NATO summit in Brussels, before attending a US-EU summit.
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said Mr. Biden’s trip would “strengthen” the United States’ commitment to multilateralism, as well as NATO and the principle of collective defense.
The Biden administration has made it clear that it wants to see a revitalization of the Western military alliance, which has been undermined by factors such as Donald Trump’s attacks, criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron and tensions over Turkey.
As anticipation for his travels increases, unearthed reports shed light on his first speech to the European Parliament more than a decade ago.
It’s not uncommon for Mr Biden to get lost in the moment, but when he addressed MEPs in 2010, his flattery towards the host was a bit exaggerated.
The then vice-president, opening his speech in Belgium, argued that Brussels – given its rich history and the abundance of international institutions – could become the “capital of the free world”.
He hinted that Washington did not deserve the title – despite the wealth of its global organizations and the countless international summits taking place there.
He said: “As you probably know, some American politicians and American journalists refer to Washington DC as the ‘capital of the free world’.
“But it seems to me that in this big city, which has 1000 years of history and which serves as the capital of Belgium, seat of the European Union and seat of NATO, this city has its own legitimate claim to this title. .. “
Mr Biden’s comments could also have been seen as a snub in London.
The capital of the United Kingdom is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a history of almost 2000 years.
At the time, the city of London and Brussels were also engaged in a battle for financial services.
In 2010, the EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, was appointed EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services and was tasked with cleaning up the financial services sector in Europe.
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In a 2011 Financial Times report, European correspondent Alex Barker noted how the myriad of Brussels proposals left the UK financial world in shock and ministers saw such measures hurt the sector or weaken UK regulatory powers.
This nervousness would have burst into broad daylight, David Cameron complaining that the city was “constantly under attack”.
For the former Prime Minister – and UK financial sector figures – the problem was not a single issue, but rather a worrying trend.
Anthony Belchambers, managing director of the London-based Futures and Options Association, said at the time to the publication: “Red tape, ill-informed tax initiatives, protectionist policies and high ‘pass-through’ costs will hurt the city’s international reach. ”
Mr Barnier has always dismissed the complaints against him as “absurd”.